Today I want to talk about an issue that I ran into while reviving my lowbie project. The character I’m playing still needed to unlock Storm Kings Thunder, Sea of Moving Ice and Cloaked Ascendancy content and I ran through the story for a couple hours. Or let’s say I got frustrated while running through the story.
Repetitive and Boring
Repetition is always and issue with MMOs and unfortunately you can’t completely avoid it. Every character you level will experience the story although the players behind it long knows what’s going on. Neverwinter is particularly cruel in that area because different classes and races don’t come with different starting areas or unique side quests. So you either go through the full grind to max level or throw your credit card at the ZEN store and buy some unlock tokens.
The same is true for campaigns. Players are doing the very same quests over and over and over again. It’s a structure that’s hard to design differently while maintaining its main purpose: Keeping players occupied on a daily basis. I get that all of this is part of any MMO and I appreciate the effort of structuring campaigns a little bit differently in order to throw a few more options and diversity at players. There is still one major issue left that I’d like to get rid of, and additionally think it’s fairly easy.
Introductory Quests Should Indeed Be Just Introductory
I’m obviously talking about the introductory quests of each campaign. Experiencing the story is really only interesting once. For all additional characters it’s just a painful routine you need to go through on top of the regular campaign grind. That’s especially true for campaigns where the “story” is just a sequence of daily quests. Let’s take Sea of Moving Ice here as example. Players are basically being taught how to fish, how to use their Khyeks and then complete all the quests once that they are going to face on a daily basis later on. That’s already a pretty boring setup, but it makes sense for new players to get to know the map. But the level of frustration is really high once you do this crap for the umpteenth time.
And it’s completely unnecessary. Those quests are not what keeps players occupied or define the campaign length. So I think you could easily get rid of them, save the players a lot of trouble and lose very little stalling components of the content.
It Should Be Possible
And the best thing is, it shouldn’t even be much of a hassle for the devs. We already have all sorts of tokens that auto-complete campaigns or unlock certain content on preview. So it’s probably just a matter of wanting to and not figuring out how to. I think most players wouldn’t mind if the first completion of a quests auto-completes it on all subsequent toons. You could also bind it to the first completion of a campaign or offer free tokens so players are able to actively choose whether or not to go through the story again.
It’s probably not as easy for campaigns in which the story is connected to the grind, like Maze Engine. But that module is also not the worst offender when it comes to introductory quests and repetitive story. Storm Kings Thunder and Cloaked Ascendancy are much worse. In a way that’s a downside of the better tales that we’ve seen lately. More story is great once, but gets considerably worse later on if you’re not able to get around it. Achievements are a non-issue here because the story quests are repeatable since Underdark, which turns out to be a ton of help if you’re trying to auto-complete certain stuff.
Overall I think this is something that could be done and should be done. The devs lose a couple hours of activity per toon, but that doesn’t outweigh the level of frustration these quests cause for the players.
What’s your opinion on having to repeat the story over and over and over again? Share your thoughts or alternate suggestions in the comment below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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